Connection Lost (xxvi)

MIT was as unreal as anywhere else. But at least that was pretty much normal.

On the roofs of buildings were antennaes made of mismatched parts, wind turbines of a dozen sorts, a few helicopters and at least one trebuchet. There was another aid station in Killian Court. A patchwork of tarps had been pulled across it like a Big Top. Out beneath the bridge were submarine-like devices that Alan recognized as wave power generators. Up close it seemed many of them had been build out of trash cans.

There were people here, too. Old people, dirty people, but mostly… undergrads. Some were just hanging around. Some were clustering and talking as college students do. But more were busily engaged on something or other. Some people built, some people maintained. More stood back with clipboards or tablet computers and took notes, or measurements, or video (with someone posing in frame).

Alan felt his eyes bug. They were documenting. They were documenting what they had done.

He went to his office. There was a train on the tracks, the first time Alan had ever seen a train there. Vassar Street was blocked at one side by a tank and on the other side by a sailboat up on cinderblocks. Some guys in Army fatigues stood in front of the NRL building. They were holding rifles. Alan kept well clear of them. More particularly, of the rifles.

Running between the legs of the soldiers were great lengths of cable. Most looked like extension cords daisy-chaned together. They disappeared at one end into the NRL and at the other into laptops. A few hundred laptops. Disappearing into those were a few hundred MIT students.

They just sat there. Out on the street. In broad daylight. Clackity-clacking away.

Alan recognized faces in the crowd. He saw his advisor, a few other grad students, a student from his classes here and there. He even recognized one of the prospies who had visited him during office hours. He couldn’t remember the girl’s name. Not her real name anyway. He considered calling out Cockface O’Shaughnessy. He didn’t think the army guys would appreciate that.

Instead he wandered up to a compsci post-doc who worked on his floor. He was sitting in front of a full desktop computer he’d set up right there on the dotted yellow line. He looked up and smiled, a big friendly smile. Alan doubted he’d been smiled at like that six times in his life. Certaily never from a post-doc, who, in Alan’s experience, never really smiled at all.

“Alan!” said the fellow, whose name was either Ravi or Raji. “When did you get here?”

“About ten minutes ago,” Alan said, his tongue thick in his mouth.

“It’s all back up,” Ra(v|j)i said. “But we all kind of got used to this. You know?”

He looked up long enough to see Alan’s face. “The generator,” he said. “6 megawatts. Kept half the campus lights-on. Gave the kiddies enough juice to build those turbines and stuff. We had power to like ninety percent of campus. A few more days and we would have-”

Alan sat down. Not very gently.

“What?” said Ravi/Raji.

Alan just stared at him.

He grabbed a power cable and held it up to him. “Want to plug in?”

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~ by davekov on 28 December 2011.

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